Fulfillment in the New Retail Reality, Part 3
As stores reopen their doors, it’s time to increase in-store traffic by spotlighting retail locations as highly efficient fulfillment centers with buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS); reserve online, pick up in-store (ROPIS); and buy online, return in-store (BORIS) fulfillment options. To do so effectively, retailers should consider the following strategies:
Real-Time Inventory Visibility That's Data Driven
As consumers were forced to stay inside and limit their physical shopping experiences during stay-at-home mandates, retailers also struggled with supply chain interruptions. This has led to out-of-stocks, fulfillment delays and, ultimately, frustrated shoppers.
As lockdowns lift and life returns to a somewhat-normal pace, retailers have the opportunity to turn each store into an advanced fulfillment center. To do this, retailers need to be data driven and provide each and every customer with a real-time view into local store inventory across all channels. The last thing a shopper wants is to leave home and arrive at a store, only to find a product has been substituted or is out of stock.
Retailers should also look to personalize all stages of the shopper’s journey with key features like the ability to instantly buy previously purchased items, or by providing suggestions of products that go along with additional items they’ve added to their cart. The retailer can go the extra mile by providing additional content that showcases the use of a particular product, such as a food recipe for pantry staples or a workout routine for an athleisure purchase.
Two good examples of brands currently doing this are Texas grocer H-E-B as well as Planet Fitness. H-E-B sends out weekly newsletters to customers highlighting innovative recipes shoppers can make with the grocer's products, as well as self-care tips and at-home activities families can do to stay entertained. Planet Fitness puts together daily “Home Work-Ins” for customers, highlighting new trainers and workout routines that can be done at home by all age groups.
BOPIS, ROPIS, BORIS
Once in-store, retailers have an opportunity to deliver true personalization by equipping store associates with the latest information to make everything from fulfillment and new product discovery to the overall in-store experience personalized. For example, for a BOPIS order, in-store associates can utilize the retailer’s data to have the customer’s order history on hand and be prepared to make personalized upsell recommendations as the customer arrives to the store. Additionally, the associate can also utilize the customer’s purchase history to highlight new product lines that the customer may be interested in exploring while in-store.
ROPIS is another fulfillment option that retailers should be taking advantage of to increase sales and drive customer loyalty. Instead of customers paying for the item before picking up in-store, ROPIS allows shoppers to first reserve the item online to view or try it in person before deciding to complete the transaction. The items are put on hold, ready for when the customer comes in-store to take a look without having to search the aisles. Not only does this remove potential friction by avoiding a lengthy checkout process, but it also avoids unnecessary returns, wasting valuable time and money.
Consumers are known to buy multiple sizes, colors and models of a particular product online in order to pick the one they like the most from the comfort of their home. Therefore, online shopping tends to lead to increased returns. However, savvy retailers know that facilitating the returns process through a BORIS strategy can create an additional customer experience touchpoint and opportunity to facilitate an exchange or new sale. While COVID-19 turned the BORIS process upside down — putting returns on indefinite hold, in many cases — several retailers with physical storefronts have opted to give their shoppers longer return windows in order for them to be able to return items without issue when stores reopen. Examples of these retailers include Target, DSW, and Sephora. This strategy not only gives shoppers a reason to journey to the store, but it also gives retailers the ability to further connect with consumers and create an additional touchpoint for upselling and building the customer-retailer relationship.
As retailers work to rebuild and reconnect with consumers, the road ahead presents a journey in which fulfillment programs like BOPIS, ROPIS and BORIS will be the foundational layers for retailers as they forge ahead. However, these offerings will require an additional layer of sophistication, one that gives the consumer reassurance that the retailer truly understands their needs and wants, in addition to providing a path for growth for the retailer. Successful retailers will bring together a combination of advanced data insights and personalization techniques in order to deliver revamped fulfillment options and reap the rewards.
Lisa Kalscheur is chief marketing officer at Kibo, a cloud commerce solutions provider.
Related story: Fulfillment in the New Retail Reality, Part 2